Lycée Pierre Bourdan in Gueret

Our experience of the flu epidemic in France has been a bit of a disaster really. Ruadhri was the only success story – he had his vaccination without any side effects. OK, his yells echoed round the Salle Polyvalente for several minutes, but he had it and he didn’t get flu. Caiti wasn’t so lucky. She had her vaccination at lycée on a Wednesday afternoon. She felt very ill that night, a little better Thursday, but so ill on Friday that I had to go and collect her. She picked up over the weekend, went back to lycée on Monday, but I was back again on Tuesday picking her up from the nurse’s office as she’d had a relapse. She was off the rest of that week. So I’m not sure the vaccine did her any good – she’d have been off for as long with the flu anyway. Benj got the flu the week he was due to get inoculated at lycée with Caits. He was very poorly, flat out on the sofa for a fortnight. I’m not entirely sure if it was swine flu or seasonal flu, but it was nasty. And this week, the same week that WHO declares the flu epidemic to be at an end in most of Europe, Chris and I get our call-up papers to go for our jabs. We shan’t be bothering. It’s way too late. Had we been offered back in November, then we’d have taken up the offer. There’s no point now at all.

It’s been well publicised that France bought far too many doses of vaccine, thinking patients would need two doses each. Even though the doctor told me that Rors would only need one dose (thank heavens, I don’t think I could have gone through that ideal again!), the admin ladies as we handed in our final form before leaving insisted he had to come back for a second jab. I relayed what the doctor had told me but they assured me he was wrong! OK I shrugged, smiling but having no intention of coming back. They were clearly doing their best to reduce the stockpile, but it didn’t work with me!

A lot of work went into the vaccination campaign. The day I took Ruadhri, there were several pompiers, a doctor, two nurses and three or four administrative assistants, and that was just in our little local town Boussac. Nationwide it must have been a Herculean task.  I appreciate the hard work and time that went into organising the whole thing. It was just too late though.